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Interaction among deer browsing, hunting, and tree regeneration

Abstract : The intentional removal or addition of species or specific human impacts on ecosystems trigger changes that can help us understand species interactions. In many temperate forests, deer populations are increasing and so is the need to understand how they influence ecosystems. We took advantage of the introduction of Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitchensis Merriam) to the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii), British Columbia, Canada, to study how hunting pressure affects the impact of deer on tree regeneration after logging. We show that although the regeneration of western redcedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don) is drastically reduced in presence of deer, regeneration is better and browsing stress lower, in areas where deer are more exposed to hunting. Similar effects of accessibility for hunters are observed on browsing stress of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carriere). Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.) is not significantly affected, and its regeneration is not correlated to hunting. We suggest that the effect of hunting on tree regeneration could be explained by the incidence of hunting on deer behaviour rather than by the actual number of deer killed by hunters. These results suggest that the future occurrence of redcedar stands in second-growth forests on this archipelago may depend on the amount and distribution of deer hunting.
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J.L. Martin, Christophe Baltzinger. Interaction among deer browsing, hunting, and tree regeneration. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, NRC Research Press, 2002, 32 (7), pp.1254-1264. ⟨10.1139/X02-043⟩. ⟨hal-02580657⟩



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